In the Varois village of La Motte is an ancient olive-oil mill, now housing a small mill museum, and the artistic treasures of M. Pizay. Through this small door (photo at the left) you'll find an overflowing display of large clay figurines (santon style), olive-wood plaques and carvings and fine ink graphics.
The main room inside is a spectacle; just stand in one spot and to see the variety of objects available. This view shows half of the main room, with the stone pillars adding to the atmosphere. The far end attracted us with the row of figurines across the width of the white wall, and we have included some detail photos of those.
The artist himself, M. Pizay, is taking a momentary break from his work at the left of the photo. Behind us (in this photo of the main room) is a large set of figurines of Napoleon and his troops, each one finely detailed of a different person.
The row of stone pillars at the right are along a newly-built wall that forms a long narrow hallway in back. In that hallway (photo-21) is another collection of olive-wood plaques and many more figurines, including a wall-long collection depicting the History of Provence. This collection, along the left wall, begins with the Gauls and progresses through to American soldiers who helped liberate La Motte — the first town in Provence to be liberated.
Along the right wall of the back hallway is more of the endless figuines of monks and medieval characters of the region.
Le Moulin is open every day, and entrance is free. It's not noticeable inside but the objects on display are for sale. M. Pizay is obviously more of an artist than a salesman, busy at his cluttered work area while we wander through the vast display. Prices aren't obvious, nor any evidence that the articles can actually be purchassed.
New Arrival in La Motte
M. Pizay, an ex sailor in the French Navy, arrived as an outsider in the village nearly 50 years ago. Offered the rental of the old olive-oil mill by the village mayor, unused since the Great Freeze of 1957 killed the olive trees and destroyed the area's main resource. Our artist rolled into the region in his ancient (even for those days) 2CV, with his faithful dog Diane at his side.
With doubts about the possibilities, but a certain faith in destiny, M. Pizay was transformed from a sailor to an artist. To the obvious benefit of all of us.